Earlier this year, the Snohomish Health District proposed a ban on vaping in public spaces and workplaces.
Now the public health agency has drawn up a proposal detailing regulations that would go along with that ban.
They include prohibiting the sale of vaping products to minors, licensing the businesses that sell vaping products, and banning vaping in public in much the same way as smoking is under state law.
But the propsal would allow the sampling of vaping products by adults in vaping stores, something vaping retailers had pushed hard for.
Dr. Gary Golbaum, health officer for the Snohomish Health District, said allowing adults to sample vaping products in retail stores is something he has concerns about. “However, I’m a pragmatist and I believe my board is very pragmatic,” he said. “They would like to accommodate something that is going to be reasonable.
“These are not to become vaping lounges,” he added.
The health district has gotten more than 800 responses from the public in emails, letters and in public comment since plans for the proposed ban were announced earlier this year. The public health agency will continue to accept public comment through emails, letters and meetings through Oct 23.
The proposal will be discussed at the Snohomish Health District Board’s meeting Oct. 13. Another longer public comment session is scheduled from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. Oct. 19 in the Snohomish Health District Auditorium.
Goldbaum said a ban on the use of vaping, or electronic cigarettes is needed to protect youth from potentially becoming addicted to nicotine. It also would protect vulnerable adults, such as pregnant women and those with lung disease, from the devices’ second-hand smoke, he said.
“I think that addressing the use of these devices and regulating their sales is a really important public health issue,” Goldbaum said. “The evidence is not there that these devices are safe,” he said. “I’m really convinced we’ve got to do this.”
Some vapers strongly defend use of the devices which they say have helped them quit smoking tobacco. How effective vaping is as a stop-smoking aid is just one of the items over which backers and opponents of vaping disagree.
Part of the problem in trying to determine just what byproducts may be created by the clouds of liquid created by the machines is that there is no regulation of either the production of the electronic cigarette devices themselves or of the liquids that go in them, which often include varying amounts of nicotine.
There are more than 400 of brands of e-cigarette devices and more than 7,000 flavors of the nicotine “juices,” according to the American Heart Association.
David Nguyen, one of the owners of Clouds the Limit vaping business in Everett, said he remains opposed to the health district’s regulations. Even though the regulations for the moment are still a proposal, he said he worries that it will hurt the industry. He also said he wants to hear more on how the regulations in the 10-page proposal would be interpreted by the health district.
“As a business owner and a vaper, we won’t let up easy,” he said. “We’d rather not give them anything.”
Sharon Salyer: 425-339-3486 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Proposed Vaping Ordinance
The proposal under consideration by the Snohomish Health District board prohibits the use of vaping products in public places, and regulates their sales to reduce youth access.
If approved as now written it would:
Prohibit vaping in public places and worksites throughout the county.
Allow sampling of vaping products only at permitted retail outlets that exclusively sell the products, exclude minors, and meet other requirements.
Require “No Vaping” signs in public places.
Require retailers selling vaping products to post signs stating no sales to minors, that nicotine is toxic and should be kept away from children.
Prohibit vaping products being sold to, given to, or possessed by those under 18.
Require retailers to verify the age of the buyer — except those 26 and older.
Require vaping products to be kept behind the counter or in a secure display.
Prohibit distribution of free samples
Require retailers to have a permit issued by the Snohomish Health District.
The Snohomish Health District is taking public comment on the proposed vaping ordinance through Oct. 23. Comments may be emailed to email@example.com or mailed to the Snohomish Health District, Attn: SIPP Comments, 3020 Rucker Ave, Suite 306, Everett, WA 98201. A public survey on the topic is available at www.snohd.org. The item will be discussed during the meeting of the Snohomish Health District Board from 3 p.m. to 5:30 p.m. Oct. 13. Public comment is limited to 40 minutes. Another public comment session is scheduled from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. on Oct. 19 in the Snohomish Health District Auditorium. More information on the issue is available on the health district’s website at: www.snohd.org/Healthy-Living/Smoke-Free-Living/Vaping-Vapor-Products.